Author Archives: staciethinks

Easy table cloth

I just made a table cloth that was even easier than I though! Ready to have your mind blown?

 Image

I think it turned out very summery and matches my pictures that were already hanging well. Would you like to see a before?

Image

I bought this table cloth during Christmas (2009!) and it has been there ever since. It is very pretty, but I wanted to brighten up the place a bit.

Image

Yes, it actually has poinsettias in ribbon work on the corners, and it is velvet. It was time for a change.

My friend Holly and I made a table cloth for her a few weeks ago. She has a round table, so we sewed two pieces of home decor fabric down the middle and created a circle. I thought I would do the same, but just make a square.

Image

I started by taking my current table cloth and folding it in half. I laid my new cloth over it and cut it to the same length. I thought the two were pretty close in size, so I laid the new cloth on top of the table and really liked the size of the width for the table cloth.

Image

I eyeballed it to make the cut edges skim the chairs to match the width. I just cut it from there. I wound up with a pretty even square.

Image

I took my square cloth to my serger and just serged around all the edges. Holly and I did this on her circle table cloth and it looked very cool and was so much easier than hemming a giant circle. I decided to do the same for mine, and it is so easy! I used a three thread overlock stitch. I love my serger!

Image

My serger even cut my selvedges and uneven cuts for me! Yay!

Image

Here is a close up of the final results on my table! You can hardly even see the serged edges.

Image

And here is my after shot again. I just love it!

Image

I have some excess fabric left over…

Image

I think I feel some matching kitchen accessories coming on!

Baby diaper cover

I admit the diaper cover came out cute. I found a free pattern here, which was very easy to follow. However, this was my least favorite baby project.

Image

It was the elastic that turned me off on these. The pattern was well done, and construction was easy enough. I am just not an elastic person. It doesn’t look like a clean finish to me.  I know you’re thinking, well a zipper just won’t work here. I agree, so I tried it. They did turn out very cute, but I am only making this one pair.

Image

The pattern was two pieces and used very little fabric. I love that. Also, the pattern came in four sizes ranging from 0 – 24 months. I made the 0-3 month size.

Image

Here they are just sewn together before the elastic went in. All raw edges were serged, but there is an option to finish them with bias tape on the tutorial that goes with the pattern.

Image

Here is the admittedly cute rear end with the elastic inserted. I recommend this project, but with the elastic insertion it just was not for me!

The easiest baby blanket ever

Image

This baby blanket was so easy it feels like I cheated! It’s not fancy at all, but here in Texas there is rarely a need for blankets, and especially for a baby born in June. A piece of flannel should be more than enough for a couple months. Out of my three fabrics I had the most of the polka dot flannel left. I used just about one yard to make the blanket.

Image

I took my piece of flannel and laid it out on the floor.

Image

 I folded up one corner of the fabric to make a triangle.

Image

I cut around the edges of the triangle to even out the fabric. This left me with about a one yard square of flannel to make my blanket.

Image

Next I used a three thread overlock stitch on my serger around all four sides of the blanket.The knife helped even out the edges since my cutting was a bit jagged.

Image

I used a dot of Fray Check on the corner where I started and finished serging to help secure the threads. It was that easy! I could have embroidered this one, but I didn’t. I like the polka dot fabric on its own. It is just a single sided piece of flannel with serged edges!

Image

Just look how good that easy-peasy blanket looks with the other gifts we have put together! I love it!

Just keep sewing!

Stacie

Stacie Thinks She Can

Baby Burp Cloths

I was at a friend’s house recently and she had some really cute burp clothes someone had given her. Her cloths were a cloth diaper on one side and a piece of fabric on the other. In the past I have just used pieces of fabric on the end or as accents when making a burp cloth. I thought hers looked great and would be even easier to make! Here is what I did:

Image

I placed a cloth diaper right sides together with a piece of my flannel. I did embroider my fabric first on this one, so I made sure that was centered. I made my pink fabric larger all around because the diaper is such a loose weave it is hard to keep it straight. The extra room gave me room to maneuver a bit.

Image

Top stitch around the edge of the diaper, trying your best to keep the diaper from shifting much.

Image

Leave an opening along one side a few inches wide to pull the burp cloth right side out.

Image

Trim your excess from around the edge leaving a good half an inch outside the opening you left. Pull your burp cloth right side out.

Image

Press your cloth. If you embroidered yours be mindful not to press your threads. Press the extra fabric you left for your opening into the diaper and make sure it is even with the sides of your cloth.

Image

Top stitch around the edges of the diaper. The middle can be thick, so I slowed down on the ends when sewing through there. I chose to stitch in the ditch along the lines on either side of the middle portion of the diaper. My friend had hers stitched across the diaper so it folded in thirds. I think as long as you stitch it to keep it from shifting it is fine.

Image

I made three cloths, one out of each of my three coordinating fabrics. I only embroidered the solid pink one.

Image

 Here is how the baby gifts look all together. So cute!

Note 2 our Readers:  Find even more adventures from Stacie at her personal Sewing Blog

Baby Bibs

Image

In continuing my baby gift mission, I decided to make a couple of boutique style bibs. One of the great things about baby gifts is there are so many free tutorials out there! I followed this tutorial from Craft Gossip. Again, I wanted to embroider the bibs as well, so I varied just a bit from the instructions.

Image

The first one I did I placed just the bottom of the front (the pink part) in the embroider machine. While that was going I put together both pieces of the front of the other and embroidered them after they were connected.

Image

The important thing is to embroider the bib front before you attach it to the bib back. Once the bib front is complete, just sew following the instructions provided on the tutorial.

Image

I lined the backs of the bibs in coordinating fabrics.

Image

I decided against Velcro as my closure. I plan on adding snaps. I don’t like how Velcro snags things in the washer, and all I had was this weird flesh color anyway. Where did that even come from?

Image

We’ve got some great goodies going in the gift basket! I still have a couple more up my sleeve, so stay tuned!

Baby Gifts: Changing Pad and Diaper Wipe Pouch

One of my very favorite projects is baby related gifts. When you make a gift for a baby shower or new child, I feel like it is really appreciated and means a lot to the parents. I just found out I have a new baby celebration coming up in June, and I thought it would be fun to share my projects with you.

Image

One of the best parts about baby gifts is you can pick fun materials that you would not typically wear. I picked these three flannels for a baby girl. I got the fabric on sale for $2.49 per yard plus my 15% teacher discount. I bought two yards each of the polka dots and solid and one yard of the zebra print.

Image

I made The Sushi-Roll Changing Pad and Diaper & Wipes Pouch. I love Sew, Mama, Sew for great tutorials and ideas. This project can be made from fat quarters as well. Needless to say, it does not take much to create these projects. I used just under a half yard each of the polka dot and pink fabrics and a scrap of the zebra.

Image

I began with the wipe pouch. When I make things for babies I love to use my embroidery machine to personalize the gifts. I can’t get enough of new parents seeing their child’s name on their presents. I used the Curlz Three Applique Alphabet to add the first initial of their little girl. I used the Lacy Edge P from the applique file. It turned out very cute and the detail is fantastic.

Image

To add the ‘P’ I embroidered it onto the bottom center of the outside fabric I chose for the pouch. After the ‘P’ was on, I followed the directions from the tutorial as written.

Image

I lined the pouch with the polka dot material. It turned out very nicely and went together quickly.

Image

I made the changing pad to match. I did not embroider on the changing pad because I could not decide where to place the embroidery. I did choose to use twill ribbon instead of the elastic. I had twill on hand. I was also able to use a scrap of batting for the changing pad. I love being able to use up scraps.

Image

I had to show the set again. I just think they are so cute together, and the cost for these was just over a dollar each for fabric.

Image

I also managed to use all three machines today! I used the sewing machine for the most part. I used my serger to finish the inside of the changing pad to reinforce it before turning it right side out. Finally, I used my embroidery machine to make the ‘P’. I always feel so accomplished when I get to run them all in one day. Stay tuned for more baby gifts!

The History of the Serger

Image

This morning I was using my serger on a project. The serger is a mystery to me. When I use mine I often think to myself that whomever created this complicated piece of machinery must have been a genius. It finishes edges perfectly, trims while it stitches, makes perfect rolled hems a snap and is a life saver when it comes to knits. However, it is usually when I am threading it that I think about how complicated it really is. I lost my fancy tweezers when trying to thread the lower looper and was using facial tweezers. I find when I am frustrated I just need to walk away for a bit and come back. During this morning’s walk away I did some research and found out just who was the mastermind behind the serger. I found my information on Wikipedia, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt, but is still interesting.

Overlock History

Overlock stitching was invented by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881.

J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow, who owned a knitting mill established in Connecticut in 1838, developed a number of technological advancements to be used in the mill’s operations. Merrow’s first patent was a machine for crochet stitching. Merrow still produces crochet machines based on this original model. This technology was a starting point for the development of the overlock machine, patented by Joseph Merrow in 1889. Unlike standard lockstitching, which uses a bobbin, overlock sewing machines utilize loopers to create thread loops for the needle to pass through, in a manner similar to crocheting. Merrow’s original three-thread overedge sewing machine is the forerunner of contemporary overlocking machines. Over time, the Merrow Machine Company pioneered the design of new machines to create a variety of overlock stitches, such as two, and four-thread machines, the one-thread butted seam, and the cutterless emblem edger.

A landmark lawsuit between Wilcox & Gibbs and the Merrow Machine Company in 1905 established the ownership and rights to the early mechanical development of overlocking to the Merrow Machine Company.

Throughout the early 19th Century the areas of Connecticut, USA and New York USA were the centers of textile manufacturing and machine production. Consequently many overlock machine companies established themselves in the Northeastern United States.

In 1964 Juki Corporation was formed; a precursor of the modern industrial overlock sewing machine company. Throughout the 1980s Japanese and Chinese sewing machine production came to dominate the industry.

In the United States the term “overlocker” has largely been replaced by “serger” but in other parts of the world (Australia, UK) the term “overlocker” is still in use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overlock

Joseph M. Merrow

Joseph Millard Merrow (June 24, 1848 – March 27, 1947) was president of the Merrow Machine Company. Merrow was born in the community of Merrow, town of Mansfield in Connecticut. His parents were J. B. Merrow and Harriet Millard Merrow. He was educated at the Munson Mass Academy and Hartford Public High School. At the age of 15 he was employed as a pharmacist and a postmaster, appointed by Abraham Lincoln.

Established in 1838, the family business was the manufacture of knit cotton goods; it was the first of its kind in the country. In 1888 the family’s mills were destroyed by fire related to an incident with gunpowder. J. B. Merrow held a patent on gunpowder. The destruction of the mill allowed the company to further develop a small shop that had previously supported the knitting mill, and the Merrow Mills thus became primarily a manufacturer of crochet sewing machines.

Joseph Merrow was the driving force behind Merrow developing new technology, growing the new business and transforming it from a regional supplier of crochet sewing machines, to the market leader manufacturing hundreds of models of industrial overlock sewing machines. Under his leadership the company achieved a place of prominence in the industrial machine field with sales world-wide, hundreds of patents and the industries first industrial overlock sewing machine.

Merrow was also active in politics. In 1880 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the General Assembly. He was founder and president of the Hartford County Manufacturers association. In addition he founded the Industrial Memorials Inc, a business group that devoted its time to commemorating pioneer manufacturers by funding and locating plaques and statues. He was president from 1939 until 1946.

Merrow traveled the world, taking several dozen trips to europe and asia, while studying the industrial conditions of the countries he visited.

He was a writer and a poet. The Hartford Courant writing his obituary quotes him as having defined war as the ‘history of the human race in a single word, Greed the cause of war and brotherly love the cure for greed and the end of war’.[cite this quote]

Merrow never married, although his great nephews Owen and Charlie Merrow maintain his legacy as the current managers of the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_M._Merrow

Merrow Sewing Machine Company History

From gunpowder to knitting mills

In the early 19th Century Mr. Joseph Makens Merrow became interested in the manufacture of gunpowder and established a powder mill 24 miles from Hartford Connecticut. When the Mill was destroyed by explosion in 1837 it was decided to build a knitting factory on the same site using water power from an adjacent river.

At first the knitted goods were made largely of native wool which was sorted, scoured and dyed, picked, carded and spun into yarn and knitted into hosiery. The product was sold through commission merchants in New York and delivered to retail stores throughout New England by two-horse wagons. Following the gold rush of 1849 shipments of goods began to sail to San Francisco. As business increased, a small machine shop was started to support the equipment in the factory.

The first overlock machine

In Conjunction with the knitting business, the first Crochet Machines were constructed for finishing around the tops of men’s socks in place of handwork. The Merrow machine as it is now known, was an invention of Mr. Joseph M. Merrow, who was president of the company until his death in 1947 at age 98.

The Merrow Machines were constructed under his direction prior to 1876 with numerous patents granted. The machines were so useful that business was undertaken to introduce the equipment to other textile manufacturers. In 1887 the knitting mill was destroyed by fire and the company moved to Hartford and reorganized concentrating on the manufacture of overlock sewing machines.

The Merrow Machine Company

In Hartford the company focused on building lines of industrial overlock sewing machines that were used to overedge fabric, add decorative edging and support the fabric processing trade by joining fabrics.

Between 1893 when the company was renamed the Merrow Machine Company, and 1932 when a line of “A Class” machines was introduced, Merrow had a significant impact on the textile industry. The technology and rate of innovation in this time, spearheaded by Joseph M. Merrow was unequaled in the industry. As a consequence there were several high profile legal confrontations, including Merrow v. Wilcox & Gibbs in 1897.

Sales for overlock sewing machines were strong and Merrow grew to employ more than 500 people in Hartford Ct. The company also excelled developing international distribution and by 1905 had agents in 35 countries and printed manuals in at least 12 languages.

In 1955, Merrow patented the Merrow MG-3U Emblem Machine.

In the mid 1960s Merrow opened a manufacturing facility in Lavonia GA to reduce costs and maintain proximity to an American textile market that was moving from New York City to the American South East.

In the 1990s Merrow developed a new overlock machine called the Delta Class, but was never able to gain traction with the new model.

In 2004 shareholders of the Merrow Machine Co. agreed to a buyout of the company by Charlie Merrow, and it was renamed the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

The Merrow Machine Company today

After the reorganization in Massachusetts, the company released notice that it would continue supporting most models of sewing machines manufactured after 1925, and would re-release to market new versions of its most popular models.

The company has capitalized on the trademarks “merrowed” and “merrowing”, working with manufacturers who use Merrow Machines to brand and market “merrow” stitching.

In 2008 Merrow developed a social network for stitching named merrowing.com, and introduced series of rich media web-based tools to help people research and understand the myriad of stitches produced by Merrow Machines.

Present day

The Merrow Machine Company is now based in Fall River, Massachusetts, and is managed by Charlie Merrow and Owen Merrow great great nephews of Joseph M. Merrow. The company continues to build many models of overlock sewing machines. In addition to being one of the most recognized brands of textile equipment in the world, it remains the oldest manufacturer of sewing machines still made in the United States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merrow_Sewing_Machine_Company

Well, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back to that lower looper. Who knew the serger had such a rich history? I did visit the Merrow Company web site. It was a bit complicated to navigate, but it appears they are not targeting sewing hobbyists such as myself. They did have pictures of some of their stitches, and they are very nice. I think it is fantastic that the technology developed so long ago is now available to sewists like myself at an affordable price like my Janome. Sure, I’d like to upgrade to the great ones that thread themselves at some point, but to try it out in my home I took a low-end model. I use my segrer quite a bit and now when I am using it I can think of Joseph Merrow and the innovations he made with fondness.

World Autism Awareness Day: Weighted Bag tutorial

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day.  Now I do not claim to be an expert, but I would like to share something I made for a student I have now with autism. He has been stemming (that could be rocking, biting, hair twisting, etc.) more recently. I spoke with his mom about a few students I have had in the past that responded to pressure or weight. An Occupational Therapist (OT, for you in the know) explained that some children with autism respond well to pressure. It calms them somehow. There are many types of chairs and clothing and wraps, etc. on the market. Many parents of children with autism will try anything to help their child. It gets expensive, and not every treatment works for every child. To help those parents out there paying for therapies, programs and various gadgets to help their children, I thought I would share a project that is cheap that I have had success with for some of my students over the years: a weighted bag.

The weighted bag is long and flexible. Some children like it on their laps or shoulders, some like it on their feet. Some don’t like it at all, but it is worth a try. I filled mine with dry rice, but beans would work as well. I chose to use a zipper, so the family I am sharing it with can add or subtract weight as desired. I also know this particular student won’t dig the rice out and play with it. Otherwise I would close it permanently.

Image

So to begin. I used two 12 inch by 36 inch pieces of fabric.

Image

I started with inserting a zipper. I placed the zipper face down on the short side of the fabric with the fabric facing right side up.

Image

I used my zipper foot to sew it down.

Image

Then I turned the zipper up and top stitched the right side of the fabric to the zipper tape.

Image

Next you will do the same with the other piece of fabric. The fabrics will be facing right sides together and the zipper will be face down.

Image

I used the zipper foot to sew the fabric to the zipper, and again I opened the fabric pieces up and top stitched the right side of the fabric to the zipper tape.

Image

Go ahead and check that your zipper looks correct.

Image

I sewed around the bag from the end of the zipper with the stopper, down the side, across the bottom, then half way up the other side. WAIT! Open that zipper up, I did about half way, other wise you will sew your bag shut. Now continue and sew up the rest of the last side. Go ahead and finish your edges. Remember when it comes to finishing the edges on this project, they will be bearing some weight.

Image

I used my serger on my edges. At this point you can turn the bag right sides out and check your zipper again.

Image

I filled mine with some rice. I hope this project helps my student, and maybe a few more people with autism out there.

Note 2 our Readers:  Find even more adventures from Stacie at her personal Sewing Blog

Turning a Sweatshirt into a Cardigan

It is already hot in Texas. Yesterday my thermometer read 86 degrees! I work in a school where when the temperature goes up outside, the air conditioner gets turned way down. It is summer outside and winter inside. One of my favorite people at work gave me an old school sweatshirt and asked me if I could make it into something that was open she could slip on when the temperature drops in her office. Challenge accepted!

Image

I started by drawing a line down the center front of the sweatshirt and cutting it straight down the front.

Image

Scary! I told her to give me an old sweatshirt in case I messed it up, but I had to cut sometime.

Image

Next I cut the neck band, waistband and sleeve cuffs off just below their stitching line.

Image

I stay stitched the neckline to keep it from stretching while I was working with it.

Image

I turned the sweatshirt inside out and pinned the fabric in place. I serged my sleeve and side seams, so I pinned well inside my seam allowance. I measured in from the arm pit two inches and tapered that mark into the bottom of the shirt as well as the end of the sleeve. Repeat this on both sides. I did this because I find most sweatshirts are baggy in the arm which is very comfortable, but not flattering as a cardigan feature.

Image

Here are my new serged side seams.

Image

Finally, I used Jenny’s great binding tutorial to finish all of the raw seams. Yes, hers is on a place mat, but it is the same general idea. Our school colors are maroon and blue. Now I have a cute and boutique style cardigan from an old sweatshirt! I used my curvy decorative stitch, but I would recommend one with a bit more substance if you are going to try this project. What a great present for teachers or cute project for students! You could also add a button or hook and eye at the neckline to keep it closed if you wanted to.

Note 2 our Readers:  Find even more adventures from Stacie at her personal Sewing Blog

Car Trash Can Tutorial

This week I am very excited because I got a new car. I’ve never had a new car, and I was very sad to see my 14 year old Volkswagen go. I finally admit to everyone though: it was time. Having a brand spanking new car, I am trying to think of ways to keep that new feeling around. One of my first ideas was something to put trash in, like all those little receipts or wrappers that happen in the car.

Image

Here is the car trash can I came up with, and I thought I would share the steps with you in case you would like the same.

Image

I used a 16 inch by 16 inch piece of fabric. Mine was a block from a quilt I turned out not liking, but you could use any piece of fabric.

Image

I also used a cup from a Houston Rockets game. We have a lot of these stadium size cups around because I am a huge Rockets fan. I used one of my more beat up ones because it won’t be visible as a trash can anyway.

Image

I measured around the largest part of my cup and folded my fabric right sides together to match the cup size with enough ease to get the cup in it. I sewed down the seam I measured using a straight stitch.

Image

After I sewed the seam I checked to make sure the cup would fit…success!

Image

I then cut off the excess material from the side to make a strap.

Image

I sewed a straight seam across the bottom of the bag with the fabric still right sides together and hemmed the top of the tube folding in a half inch twice.

Image

I then took the bottom seam and pulled the corners out like in the picture above. I measured in an inch on both corners and sewed a line across.

ImageI checked for fit again at this point to make sure my cup fit in and it did. The bottom of your tube should look like the one in the picture above.

Image

With the cup inserted in the tube, this is what the bottom should look like.

Image

 Next we are going to make the strap. Fold your fabric strap in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press.

Image

Now open the strip up and press both of the outside edges toward the center press mark you made.

Image

Now fold the strap lengthwise in half again and press.

Image

Now straight stitch along the side of the strap that is folded together.

Image

I like to repeat the process on the other side of the strap just because I think it looks nice.

Image

You should now have the strap complete. Go ahead and insert the cup into the tube and fold the excess to the inside. It should look like the picture above.

Image

Make a mark where you would like your strap to hit. I chose about a half inch down from the top of the cup.

Image

Now pull that all out of the cup and pin the strap in place with the strap on the outside with the handle piece facing the top. Sew the strap in place being sure not to catch the other side of the tube in the stitch. I used a straight stitch and sewed over it back and forth about three times to reinforce it.

Image

Here it is all completed in my sewing room.

Image

And here it is in my car. The strap is place around my shift stick Now I have a non leaking and completely washable car trashcan. And it is cute!

Note 2 our Readers:  Find even more adventures from Stacie at her personal Sewing Blog